Paul Tillich

Paul Tillich

Born: 1886. Died: 1965.


- Human beings are ultimately concerned with the fundamentals of being and meaning.

- The nominalist dichotomy of subject and object leads both to naturalism and supernaturalism; naturalism fails to appreciate the dynamic power and purpose of all being. while supernaturalism fails to appreciate the interpenetration of the sacred and the secular.

- God, as Being Itself, is the essential ground and source of all natural and intelligible structures of reality.

- Beings from their essense manifest what they are and what they ought to be in their dynamic acts of transcendence.

- True symbols and myths participate in what they present and as such serve as avenues to the depth of being.

- All reality can be potentially sacramental, for all reality is the interplay of the finite with the infinite.

- When the essence of being is manifested in existence, it is in a state of alienation, in human beings, this is experienced as the encounter with nonbeing and in all the acts by which the finite seeks to make itself absolute.

- In the movement from essence through existence to essentialization, human beings seek to overcome, by God's grace, the gap between essence and existence.

- The Christian understanding of the Incarnation is that the deficiencies of the human ecistential situation have become absolutely united with the ground of all being, such that Christ conquers all the negativity of existence.


Tillich was born in Starzeddel, Germany, in 1886. From 1904 to 1909 he studied at universities in Berlin, Tübingen, and Halle, and in 1910 he received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Breslau. He was ordained in the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union, Berlin, in 1912, and served as an army chaplain on the Western front during World War I.

From 1919-1924, Tillich was a Privatdozent at the University of Berlin, from 1924-25 Associate Professor of Theology at the University of Marburg, from 1925-29 Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Dresden Institute of Technology, and from 1929-33, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Frankfurt.

On April 13, 1933 Tillich's position was suspended by the Nazi government, and on November 3, he arrived in New York, where, until 1937, he was Visiting Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary; at Union, he served as Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology (1937-1940) and Professor (1937-1955).

From 1955-1962, he was University Professor at Harvard, and during his last three years, the Nuveen Professor Theology in the Divinity School, University of Chicago.

Paul Tillich died in 1965.

Major Books of Paul Tillich

- Biblical Religion and the Search for Ultimate Reality, 1955
- Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions, 1963
- The Conquest of the Concept of Religion in the Philosophy of Religion, in James Luther Adams, editor, What Is Religion?, 1969
- The Courage to Be, 1952
- Dynamics of Faith, 1957
- The Eternal Now, 1963
- The Interpretation of History, 1936
- Love, Power, and Justice: Ontological Analysis and Ethical Applications, 1954
- Morality and Beyond, 1963
- My Search for Absolutes, Ruth Nanda Anshen, editor, 1967, posthumous
- My Travel Diary 1936: Between Two Worlds, 1970
- The New Being, 1955
- On the Boundary, 1966
- On the Idea of a Theology of Culture, in James Luther Adams, editor, What Is Religion?, 1969
- Perspectives on Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Protestant Theology, 1968
- The Philosophy of Religion, in James Luther Adams, editor, What Is Religion?, 1969
- The Protestant Era, 1948
- The Religious Situation, 1925
- The Shaking of the Foundations, 1948
- The Socialist Decision, 1933
- The System of the Sciences, 1923
- Systematic Theology, 1951
- Systematic Theology: Existence and the Christ, 1957
- Systematic Theology: Life and the Spirit: History and the Kingdom of God, 1963
- Theology of Culture, 1959
- Ultimate Concern: Tillich in Dialogue, D. Mackenzie Brown, editor, 1965

Major Articles of Paul Tillich

- 1935, What Is Wrong with the "Dialectic" Theology?, The Journal of Religion
- 1937, Protestantism in the Present World-Situation, The American Journal of Sociology
- 1939, The Conception of Man in Existential Philosophy, The Journal of Religion
- 1944, Existential Philosophy, Journal of the History of Ideas
- 1956, Relation of Metaphysics and Theology, The Review of Metaphysics
- 1958, The Religious Symbol, Daedalus
- 1962, The Philosophy of Social Work, The Social Service Review

Quotes from Paul Tillich

- "Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of man's being alone. It has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone." (from "The Eternal Now: Sermons", 1933)

- "The first step toward the nonreligion of the Western world was made by religion itself. When it defended its great symbols, not as symbols but as literal stories, it had already lost the battle." (from "The Lost Dimension in Religion" published in Saturday Evening Post, 1958)


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